Monday, 27 November 2017


I had a spare twenty minutes waiting for my daughter so took advantage of being close to Rock-a-Nore beach, where the Hastings beach-launched fishing fleet is based - the largest in the country. It's a wonderful jumble of fishing gear and rusty relics, as well as old and modern beach boats.

Back in the 19th century, horses were used to bring the boats back up the beach when they returned after a fishing trip. They were used to drive a windlass which wound a thick rope round a pulley which pulled the boat in. By the twentieth century the poor old horse was replaced by a geared winch, man-powered. This must have carried on until the advent of the internal combustion engine, which powered the winches until comparitively recently. Below, on the left is one of the hand-cranked variety, on the right, a powered monster.

There are many sitting around on the beach, now derelict and the reason is...
Well, the drawback with any winch, is that it pulls, but doesn't push so launching relied on men putting their shoulders to the boats and pushing them down the shingle and into the sea. The innovation that allowed pushing as well as pulling is the tracked bulldozer. There are more of these than there are winches and many are even more derelict, replaced as they wear out by slightly less work-worn examples. The constant sea air, and sea water takes its toll on them, hence the number of non-working rust heaps. I'm not sure if Huw Lofting ever visited but he would have been impressed by the pushmi-pullyu's on the beach.


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